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Friday, August 23, 2019
Tuesday, 26 February 2019 16:14

The Importance of Sleep For Good Health

The importance of sleep for good health

We spend nearly one-third of our lives in slumber, yet little is known about the forces that drive the need to sleep. However, new studies are beginning to reveal how sleep helps to regulate our health and well-being and prevent disease.

Chronic illnesses, including depression, obesity, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and high blood pressure, diabetes — have all been shown to be influenced by the quantity and quality of the sleep we receive each night. Sleep deprivation has also been shown to accelerate Alzheimer's brain damage

Getting quality sleep improves the functioning of the body's immune system, which can help fight off an infection, offsetting the effects of chronic stress, which can make the body more susceptible to illness. In fact, sleep is so important to our health that researchers at Harvard Medical School's Division of Sleep Medicine have called sleep the “third pillar of health”, along with a healthy diet and exercise.

The reasons that sleep are beneficial are not fully understood, but we know that while we sleep, the brain remains active and uses this physical resting time to process memories, and to purge toxins that can lead to neurological decline.

How much sleep is needed to maintain optimum health? While it varies by age, most adults should aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. So how can you improve the amount and quality of sleep you get each night? Here are a few tips for a better night's sleep:

Have a Sleep Routine

Go to bed the same time every night and waking up the same time every morning, including weekends. This will help to help to regulate your body's internal biological clock.

Reduce Light

Keeping light to a minimum is important for signaling to your brain that it's time to rest. This includes limiting screen time from cell phones and computer screen an hour or two before bed

Limit Fluids

Limit fluids couple of hours before bed. This will reduce the number of late night trips to the bathroom. In particular, limit caffeine, alcohol and stimulants which act as diuretics, increasing the need to urinate.

Watch What You Eat Before Bed

Aim for finishing your dinner 2-4 hours before bed. Having a heavy meal can cause indigestion. If you do eat later, try to have a light snack with protein such as peanut butter, yogurt or cheese and crackers.

Schedule Exercise Earlier in the Day

Exercise can be a  great sleep aide. It improves circulation, strengthens muscles, and improves alertness. However, this alertness can also make it difficult to calm your mind and fall asleep. Aim to complete your workout as early in the day as possible, no sooner than 3-4 hours before bed.

Published in Blog
Monday, 25 February 2019 18:18

Keeping Your Baby Safe While Sleeping

The safest position for infants to sleep is on their back. THis is according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Sleeping on the back has been shown to reduce the incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Since the AAP began recommending that all newborn babies age 1 or under be put to sleep on their backs at night and during the day for naps, the rate of of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrom) has declined more than 50 percent – with no increase in choking.

Sleeping Infant

While it can be a challenge to get your newborn in the habit of falling asleep on her back, in time your infant will adapt to this safe baby sleeping position. Of course, once your child is able to roll over, she may reposition herself.

It's also important to make sure your baby spends supervised time playing on his stomach every day. This is important to help with motor development and prevents flat head syndrome.

Here are some other tips to help your infant sleep safely and comfortably.
  • Choose a firm surface, preferably a safety-approved crib mattress. Use a fitted sheet and avoid placing the baby on soft surfaces like pillows or throws.
  • A one-piece sleeper or sleep-sack is a good alternative to blankets.
  • Keep the crib clear of soft toys, pillows blankets and other soft objects.
  • Babies should not sleep in a bed, couch or chair with other adults or children. A sofa or chair is the riskiest place for an infant to sleep. If sleeping in the same room, babies are safest in a bassinet, cradle or crib. Only bring your baby into your bed to feed or comfort them.
  • Ensure that the crib is not too cold or hot by monitoring the temperature and keeping infants away from vents, open windows and other sources of drafts.
  • Pacifiers have been show to reduce the risk of SIDS, but don't force the baby to use a pacifier if it doesn't want to.



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As we turn our clocks forward this Sunday for Daylight Saving Time our bodies must adjust to one less hour of sleep. Research has shown that this seemingly small time shift can have significant implications for our health.

A 2016 study in Finland found that just two days after the time shift the rate of stroke rose 8%. Those with cancer were 25% more likely to have a stroke during that time, while people 65 and older were 20% more likely to suffer a stroke. A 2012 study from the University of Alabama Birmingham found that the Monday and Tuesday after daylight saving time is associated with a 10% increase in heart attacks. Other studies have linked the hour lost to DSL with more workplace injuries and auto accidents, and decreased cognitive ability.

While the reason isn't clear, it's known that the disruption of the circadian clock do to sleep disruption and shift work increases the risk of stroke. To reduce the side effects of the DSL time shift, the National Sleep Foundation recommends sleeping in Sunday morning and taking a nap that afternoon as well as these other tips for getting a good night's sleep:

  • Most adults need seven to nine hours to function properly
  • Leave a couple of hours between eating and going to bed
  • Turn off mobile devices before you head to bed. Blue light from screens can affect your ability to sleep
  • Make your room all about sleep: Use a comfortable mattress, pillow and bedding, and keep your room dark
  • Create a bedtime ritual. Make deep breathing, stretches and other relaxing exercises part of your preslumber routine
  • Keep a piece of paper next to your bed. Write down any worries before trying to get to sleep
Published in Blog
Tuesday, 18 October 2016 16:15

Sleep Apnea - When You Should See a Doctor

Sleep apnea is a disorder where breathing is shallow or pauses during sleep. These pauses could last a few seconds or over a minute. Apnea episodes can occur 30 times or more an hour. When normal breathing resumes, it's sometimes accompanied with a loud snort or choking sound.

Common symptoms of obstructive and central sleep apneas include:

  • Loud snoring
  • Episodes of breathing cessation during sleep as witnessed by another person
  • Sudden awakening accompanied by shortness of breath
  • Dry mouth or sore throat during the night
  • Headache in the morning
  • Difficulty remaining asleep
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Difficulty maintaining attention
  • Irritability

If you experience any of the following symptoms of sleep apnea, it's important to see your doctor.

  • Snoring that disturbs your sleep or the sleep of others
  • Shortness of breath that wakes you from sleep
  • Gasping for air or choking that wakes you from sleep 
  • Breathing interruptions during sleep
  • Feeling drowsy during the day, which may cause you to suddenly fall asleep

 

Published in Blog
Tuesday, 18 June 2019 22:44

Tips For Getting a Good Night's Sleep

Just as we need food, water and air to survive, sleep is essential to our overall health and well being. Sleep is important for everything from memory to immune system function to the body's ability to heal tissues, along with countless other health benefits. Yet most people don't get the amount of sleep that they need. The result of insufficient sleep is increased risk of accidents, cognitive decline, memory loss, weight gain and depression.

Ideally, we should try to get between 8-10 hours of sleep every night. It's a common misconception that you can "catch up on your sleep" by sleeping more on the weekend. In reality, it's better to stick to a consistent sleep schedule. 

Here are some tips to help get a better night's sleep.
  • Create a relaxing sleep space that is cool, dark and quiet.
  • Daily exercise, such as a 20 minute afternoon walk, can help your body relax at bedtime.
  • Avoid electronic screens, caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime
  • Spend time winding down prior to bedtime by listening to relaxing music or reading.
  • Try deep breathing or listening to a guided relaxation or meditation before bed.
If you think you may be suffering from a sleep disorder, discuss your symptoms and concerns with your physician to find out if a referral to a sleep specialist for a thorough sleep evaluation is necessary.
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